Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Airport girl

Do you ever come across someone working in retail and you think, "If this person can hold down a job, then anybody should be able to?" There's a girl like that who works at a fast food place in the airport here. (I'm not going to be more specific, I'd feel awful if she stumbled on this post. Or not. Let's see where it goes) So this girl is like a walking, talking version of the employee manual. Every phrase she utters is a perfect example of exemplary customer service. We're often there for early morning flights when no one in a 10 mile radius is chipper, save her. "GOOD MORNING AND WELCOME TO ---------------, MAY I TAKE YOUR ORDER?" Bright smile, no bullhorn necessary. Once you've given your order, she repeats shouts your order. "WILL THAT BE CASH, CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD?" she asks with an anticipatory air, as if waiting for the final matching lottery number to be read. We love when the line is long and we can study her. We love especially when a customer asks a question. She's quite sharp and has obviously answered every query made before so she cuts off the question with her well practiced answers.

Customer: Where is the -

Her: ALL OF THE CONDIMENTS FOR YOUR COFFEE ARE LOCATED AT THE FAR END OF THE COUNTER JUST TO YOUR RIGHT SIR.

And then she is on to the next customer. The problem is that many times the customer is still reeling from being cut off that they are unable to comprehend her answer, loud as it is. I don't know what it is, but she has this destabilizing effect on people. This is where it gets really fun because the customer must ask again. This irritates her deeply (since she just clearly answered the question) but it must say somewhere in the manual that displaying one's irritation to the customer is forbidden. So she responds with an even bigger smile and forced cheerfulness, "AS I SAID A MOMENT AGO, EVERYTHING YOU NEED IS AT THE COUNTER IF YOU'LL JUST STEP RIGHT SIR." She has that psycho look in her eye, it's the same look my dog gives me just before she decides to disobey. So funny. She's been there every time we've flown for the past several years and we always look forward to her little nutty show. We noticed last time that her name tag said "team leader". She must be doing something right, eh?

20 comments:

David said...

Actually I give her major props for holding down that job, as I would wager the bulk of us would last less than a day in such an environment. I bet she is monitored by video and has to keep that smile and energy up for her entire shift, or else.

I've worked check-in desks for fundraising events and after you've heard the same question for the 400th time, the temptation to cut them off with the answer is quite strong.

I was expecting a story about some low-motivation person who was stumped by the simplest request or shrugged at every inquiry. People like the woman you described are my heroes.

Lemuel said...

Somehow I think I would rather face a sullen, grouchy server than her. From your description I sense that the chipper smile is a forced cover up. She seems to me to be the perfect example of the failure of customer service manuals.

Are you sure she is not some kind of voice-activated robotic device?

Ed said...

I've ran into this type of person before too. So efficient and so quick I feel like I'm in a blur. Hey, I haven't had my coffee yet. What the Eff did you just say, lady? No, I don't want cream and or sugar in my coffee I just want the damn coffee, okay? No I don't want fries with that! If I wanted effin fries with that I would have said so. I'm not grouchy I'm thirsty and hungry. I'm so glad she is enjoying her career in the wonderful world of fast food.

Jason said...

This is exactly my step-mother. Drives me nuts.

Polt said...

Doing something right? She's probably blowing the manager.

HUGS...

Frank said...

I'm fairly sure I know who you're talking about. Over in the US terminal. We don't fly that often, but often enough to get a dose. She had quite a mob peeved at her the last time we passed through. When I get that kind of attitude I usually get a big smile and take it as comical.

Patricia said...

somehow, i worry for this woman's blood pressure. i sure wouldn't do well at her job, nor would i want it. if someone is trying too hard to be polite, they deserve the benefit of the doubt, in my book.

Cooper said...

I love these kinds of little human eccentricities and quirks. Good for Airport Girl ... she gets fries with that.

vuboq said...

Ah, this takes me back to my days as a fast food employee. The reason we would quote the company manual verbatim [Would you like fries or, perhaps a cherry turnover?] is that sometimes the customer was a "Secret Shopper." If we did everything just right we would get a $50 bonus. Very nice incentive ... too bad it never happened to me. Bastards.

GayProf said...

Maybe she is just on a lot of drugs.

Chunks said...

hehe gayprof!

I love that you get a kick out of her! I could imagine the blog entries if I had a job. From me AND the general public. They'd all start out like "You should have SEEN the bitch that served me today!" It would be good times.

Paul said...

She's obviously good (even if a little irritating). It seems that you look forward to seeing her each visit.

Have you ever tried to break her routine with a trick question?

lattégirl said...

Paul is onto something. I say you should try to stymie her with something completely unexpected and see how she handles it.

Brechi said...

Haha! I want to see her now :)

Devo said...

That's hilarious, she's like the airport Nazi or something. LOL. You gotta love a person with that kind of drive at such a thankless job.

bardelf said...

Unfortunately, there are so many employees like her these days. It's all part of the dumbing down of America, or in this case, Canada, too.

For me, the worst examples are the poor cashiers in the grocery stores. "Did you find everything you were looking for today, Mr. Bardelf?" She knows my name, of course, because she has just scanned my Preferred Customer Discount Card. When I say, "No, I could not locate any European/English Cucumbers," the poor girl doesn't seem to know how to respond. "Um, er, ah, we sell out of them all the time. Try back in a few days. Have a nice day." Sure.

It frightens the hell out of me to think that employees have to be given a script to read. Can't folks just think on their own and make real conversation anymore?

P.Brownsey said...

Sounds like Sartre's waiter. (See Being and Nothingness, Part 1, Ch Two, Section II.) She is trying to realize the being-in-itself of a cafe waitress.

Paul Brownsey

Laverne said...

I find it amusing that some of the commenters think she is "dumb" or not good at her job. I'd much rather have someone who actually knows what's going on (even if she is a bit stepford wife about it) than someone who doesn't have a clue, can't add, or is rude/grouchy.

No matter what, some people can't be pleased.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

I know this type of clerk. She expresses anger with hyperbolic enthusiasm for her job.

Sounds like a real C-bomb.

dawn said...

She's the Team Leader because something tells me she is the only one that has stayed at such a shitty job for that amount of time. I mean, how far up the ladder can you get at the airport coffee place? I'm thinking she might be at the top with the TEam Leader title. It's all downhill from here.